The Best Live Music Venues in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, California, USA
Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, California, USA | © Blanca Saenz de Castilllo / Alamy Stock Photo
Dominic Bertolami

Freelance writer

Santa Monica is home to a vibrant music scene. From local bands to spoken-word burlesque acts, this beachside community knows how to put on a show.

Whether an intimate gig in a small room or a large show at a lively pub, these top live music spots in Santa Monica guarantee a night out to remember.

1. TRiP Santa Monica

Bar, American

Located on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica, the red-and-black retro architecture and music-inspired art decorating the exterior make this bar stand out from the crowd. Dedicated to featuring quality music in an intimate setting, TRiP Santa Monica boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and live music acts seven nights a week. This venue, which showcases both local acts and touring bands, is known in the community as the top place for live music in LA’s Westside. Enjoy listening with friends or take to the stage and sign up for the open mic on Saturdays. With full bar, 16 beers on tap, and moderately priced bites, TRiP has your live music fix covered.

2. Harvelle’s

Bar, American

Established in 1931, Harvelle’s is the Westside’s longest-running music venue. This dimly lit room with an elevated stage hosts local, national and international acts. Grab a drink at the bar and head to the dance floor or sit in one of its many candlelit booths for a more discreet setting. Make sure to arrive early on Sundays for ‘The Toledo Show.’ Not to be missed, this sultry mix of poetry, jazz and burlesque never fails to seduce an audience.

3. Basement Tavern

Bar, American

Underneath Santa Monica’s restaurant and event space The Victorian, the Basement Tavern — an underground music venue and nightclub — hosts local acts in a dark but lively atmosphere. Join in the fun during live band karaoke on Wednesdays from 9pm until close, or enjoy the late-night happy hour and live music showcases on Sunday nights. There is always something going on at this unique and historical destination, whether listening to funk, jazz, soul or reggae music.

4. Rusty's Surf Ranch

Bar, American

This buzzing location is both a live music destination and surf-themed bar. Located on the Santa Monica Pier, locals and visitors can enjoy themed music nights, including live acts and partner-oriented dance parties. In addition to offering fresh seafood, bar bites, and musical talents on the weekends, it also boasts beautiful ocean views. After an adrenaline rush on the pier’s amusement rides, duck into this seaside setting and dance the night away.

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